Written By: Naru Narumi
Artist: Naru Narumi
Cover Artist: Naru Narumi
Translator: Ayumi Kato Bylstone
Published By: Dark Horse Comics
Ms. Koizumi simply loves indulging in a bowl of Ramen, whether it be home-made, shop bought, sitting down in a restaurant or a quick stop at a street stall. This stunning teenage noodle connoisseur has just enrolled at a new high school and has grabbed the attention of fellow classmate Yu, who wants to get to know the new transfer student better. Constantly ‘bumping’ into Yu on the way to her next Ramen fix, they begin to spend a short time together over a meal. With only the topic of Ramen and the education of how wonderful this meal is, along with its vast varieties in construction, presentation and ingredients, Ms Koizumi slowly begins to guide her classmates in Japans’ most famous dish.
There are many manga series that have entered around Japanese food, probably the most memorable would be Food Wars (Shokugeki no Soma) from its established multi season anime series and with over 30 manga volumes. Where that series focussed more on the young chefs honing their skills, Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles is all about the dish! Highlighting the many varieties of Ramen in Japan, how they are constructed and the appreciation one should have for them. The author has blended two of Japans’ most renowned attributes – Ramen and Manga, together in order to showcase just a fraction of the countries’ culture when it comes to its’ national dish.
The storyline and characters seem to take a second seat in this series, and perhaps that is the best way forward in order to try and focus solely on the food. Ms. Koizumi is our protagonist, as well as being a freshly transferred high school student who keeps to herself, she only tends to talk as long as it involves Ramen. She is quickly noticed by Yu, a bubbly young girl who wants the attention and friendship of Ms. Koizumi. This high spirited individual is determined to get to know her new class mate, and even resorts to stalking her in order to create an opportunity for the two to talk. Although it never seems to go entirely to plan, Yu reaches a breakthrough later on in this volume! Yu’s fellow classmates Misa and Takahashi also end up spending time with Koizumi, as well as the trio learning some valuable Ramen appreciation from their new transfer student.
The balance between the storyline, character introduction and development is fairly well balanced – just like a good Ramen broth. You learn so much information on the many Ramen dishes there are, as well as how in some restaurants you buy a ticket to get your food, instead of paying a waiter at the end of the meal. Also there are some chains that ask you to fill out a form, so they can make your Ramen order specifically to your taste, instead of everyone getting the same dish. The high school characters are not entirely interesting, but they do help to break up the mountain of Ramen facts that Koizumi spouts. You have Koizumi who seems to be quite cultured and has a great pallet for food, but we don’t know yet where her love for Ramen developed from or the reason as to why she transferred schools. Yu is energetic and just loves getting to know people – hence her interest in the quiet Koizumi. Misa is a popular girl, but due to her reputation she finds it very difficult to hold onto a boyfriend. Then we have Takahashi, who is a Class Rep. Tall, responsible, wears glasses, the usual character design we see for a Class Rep in nearly all anime/manga. As to what Volume 2 will bring, I honestly don’t know. As this could have worked as a one shot, but instead has been developed into a franchise.
The illustrations are clean cut, very distinguishable and overall the lettering is easy to read, you can also clearly tell the pitch and tone each character uses by the style the speech bubble is drawn in. This manga was created, written and illustrated by Naru Narumi. She has also written and illustrated Tokyo Innocent and Zettai Joó Sei.
Ms. Koizumi Loves Ramen Noodles first began as a manga in 2013, and is still ongoing today with 8 volumes out in Japan. Dark Horse Comics will be releasing the second volume in English in 2020. This manga series was later picked up as a TV Drama in 2015 and ran for 6 episodes on Fuji TV. Then just last year, this manga was developed into a 12 episode anime by Studio Gokumi (The Ambition Of Oda Nobuna) and AXsiZ (Pandora In The Crimson Shell: Ghost Urn), which became licensed by Crunchyroll. So while you wait for the next volume to come out, why not check out the TV Drama and Anime to curb your appetite.
Overall: 7.5 /10